The Telegraph
Friday , October 10 , 2014

Cheap tests a bloody joke
- Sadar hospital pathological lab runs out of chemicals

The 220-bed Hazaribagh’s sadar hospital, long used to getting bad press for abysmal facilities, adds another sorry feature to its list of woes.

Every day, for over three weeks, 200-plus patients return from the hospital disappointed, as its pathological lab does not have two chemicals, creatinine and uric acid, used in vital blood tests.

Both uric acod and creatinine tests ascertain how well or poorly a person’s kidneys can process body wastes. That’s why doctors usually prescribe creatinine and uric acid tests together.

The rate for a pathological test at the sadar hospital lab is an affordable Rs 10, a fraction of the cost at any private pathology centre. At private labs, tests on an average cost Rs 150 each. Patients forced to go to private labs for creatinine and uric acid tests would have to pay Rs 300.

It is beyond the means of many patients such as Yashoda Devi of Vishnugarh, but they don’t have an option.

“I came to the sadar hospital laboratory for both the tests. When I was told about the lack of chemicals, I was left with no other option but to go to a private lab,” Devi said on Thursday.

The hospital lab, called district public health laboratory, has four technicians and one Grade IV employee to conduct 31 different pathological tests.

An employee, who refused to be named, said “negligence” was behind this present mess. “Chemicals don’t go out of stock in one day. We had informed officials in June that stocks were thinning at our store. No effort was taken to replenish the inventory on time,” he said.

CPM district secretary Ganesh Kumar Verma, who frequently raises his voice against hospital mismanagement, accused authorities for the mess.

“The hospital charges Rs 10 for each test, making this a regular source of revenue. Their account has deposits worth Rs 2 lakh from this source,” he claimed. “The hospital managing committee could have used this fund immediately. Why did it sit quiet?”

CPM leader Verma said he had written to Hazaribagh deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar and civil surgeon Dharmveer to take immediate action. “Otherwise, we will launch an agitation,” he warned.

Asked, Hazaribagh civil surgeon Dharmveer only said: “I have ordered the purchase of the chemicals today (Thursday). They will come from a Ranchi-based agency in a few days.”

Parrying questions on why the situation occurred in the first place, the civil surgeon added: “I will pass instructions so that this situation doesn’t recur.”

A hospital source said 140ml of creatinine cost Rs 720 and can be used for pathological tests of 25 persons. Uric acid is costlier — 20ml of the chemical costs Rs 950 and can test 20 patients.

Sadar hospital has the status of regional hospital and gets patients from Koderma, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Chatra, Giridih and parts of Bokaro.

Should Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital be managed on PPP mode?